Born in Soviet-era Ufa, the capital of what is now known as the Autonomous Republic of Bashkortostan, Uno Moralez’s first experience with manga was during his teens, with series like Galaxy Express 999 and Cobra.
Compared to Soviet animation, he had found the style of drawing in these Japanese comics to be dynamic and immersive. The artist didn’t start drawing until much later in life, first working in TV and advertising, then making illustrations for major Russian publications.
His digital work — made up of pixel art, animated gifs and graphic novels, and characterised by a black and white, graphic style — is strongly influenced by Japanese animation and early video games from his teens.
Moralez often draws from his dreams, but his early years also continue to be a source of inspiration: his graphic novel Blue Teeth, which will go on show at Moscow’s Triumph Gallery on 31 March, is based around a villain with blue teeth he’d first heard about at a children’s camp in the USSR.
However, Moralez turns the cautionary tale into a twisted universe set against the backdrop of perestroika and populated with policemen, sex-workers, criminals and demons — the kind of place you wouldn’t want to get lost in but can’t stay away from.
Text: Anastasiia Fedorova